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2013-14 Tour Information
• January 20-February 2, 2014
EGI Chair in Petroleum Geoscience at Imperial College, London
Funded by an endowment from Shell
AAPG Canada Region Tour Funded by Shell
Al Fraser currently holds the post of EGI Chair in Petroleum Geoscience at Imperial College, London. He has a BSc from Edinburgh University and a PhD from Glasgow University in the UK, both in Geology.
Previously, Al worked for BP as a Petroleum Geologist/Exploration Manager for over 30 years. His career in petroleum exploration, took him to most corners of the world including N. America, Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Far East. Following the BP Amoco merger, he led the team which made the significant Plutonio discovery in Block 18, deepwater Angola. He is the author of many papers on the Petroleum Geology of extensional basins most notably on the North Sea Jurassic and northern England Carboniferous.
He continues to pursue his interests in rifts and rifted margins and this forms his main area of research focus. Areas of interest will include the following:
- Eastern Mediterranean – the Messinian Salinity Crisis, salt-sediment interaction and its impact on hydrocarbon prospectivity of the region
- Arctic Oil & Gas Exploration – the final exploration and production frontier. What is the scale and distribution of these resources and how can we develop the technologies to exploit these reserves in a socially and environmentally acceptable way?
- South Atlantic Margins – conjugate margin evolution and fill. Crustal to basin scale.
An additional and important aspect of his role is as Director of the EGI/Imperial Research Alliance. Al is currently Science Secretary of the Geological Society of London.
In overcoming the technical challenges of oil production in the Arctic, are we making the most of a strategic resource or heading for an environmental and political minefield?
The vast Arctic region is probably the last remaining unexplored source of hydrocarbons on the planet.
In the past three decades of oil exploration in the Arctic, more than 200 billion barrels of oil have been discovered. Ultimate resources are estimated at 114 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and 2000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. If these estimates are correct, these hydrocarbons would account for more than a fifth of the world’s undiscovered reserves. This great prize, in a world of diminishing resources, has stimulated both governmental and industry interest in areas such as the US and Canadian Beaufort Sea, East and West Greenland and the Kara Sea.
Balanced against this are the considerable technical challenges of exploring and producing hydrocarbons in areas where sea ice is present for more than half the year as well as the underlying threat of damage to a pristine Arctic environment.
Harnessing the considerable resources of the ‘Final Frontier’ is going to be fraught with many technical, political and environmental challenges that will engage many minds, both scientific and political over the next half century.
Offshore Angola has to date delivered recoverable reserves in excess of 20 billion barrels of oil equivalent. This has been encountered in two distinct play systems: the Upper Cretaceous Pinda carbonates sourced by Lower Creatceous lacustrine mudstones and Tertiary deepwater slope turbidite sands sourced by underlying Upper Cretaceous marine mudstones.
Initial discoveries were made in the Pinda carbonates in shallow water offshore Cabinda during the 1980s. A move into deepwater in the mid 1990s to explore a possible extension of the play in a more distal setting, instead resulted in the discovery of the Tertiary turbidite play most notably in Block 17 at Girassol. An extension of the Girassol play into Block 18 to the south will be used to describe how high quality 3D seismic data coupled with a detailed analysis of rock properties led to an unprecedented 6 successes out of 6 wells in the block, including the giant Plutonio discovery.
The shallow Tertiary play having been largely explored, industry is turning once more to the carbonate play potential - this time in deepwater. The equivalent pre-salt carbonate play that has been so prolific in the Santos Basin of offshore Brazil on the conjugate margin is a key target with a recent significant discovery announced by Cobalt Energy at Cameia in Block 21. Given this and renewed interest in the post salt Pinda, it would seem that the Angola offshore success story is set to continue for some time to come.